January 20, 2010

New Workforce Report Confirms KSC to Lose 7,000 Jobs (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Brevard County’s workforce development agency on Wednesday released its latest study of the impact that the retirement of the space shuttle will have on the Space Coast, confirming its earlier estimates that as many as 7,000 space workers will lose their jobs. The estimate was identified as a “worst case scenario,” recognizing that much depended on the forthcoming decision by the White House on the future direction of NASA and its human space flight program and the work that will be assigned to Kennedy Space Center.

It added that the Space Coast need to keep as many workers as possible from leaving because “the aerospace workforce is the best recruiting tool and economic development incentive Brevard County has for attracting new space and expanding industry employers to the area.” According to the report the average cost of training aerospace workers is $3,800 per worker. “If this same average is used to train just one-third of the workforce (3,000 workers), excluding the ones already being trained, then $11.4 million is required for the training alone,” the report found, adding that number increases to over $12 million when staffing and overhead costs are included.

“Obviously, such huge funding requests are unlikely in these economic times and Brevard Workforce (BW) recognizes the improbability of obtaining resources at these levels,” it said. But the board said it has devised ways to maximize retraining and recommended that the state provide it with $3.2 million “to meet the demands of the large number of workers yet to be connected to services, assessed, trained, or in any way assisted with transitioning to a new career or becoming competitively skilled for the next generation programs." (1/20)

Sources: No Billion-Dollar Boost For NASA (Source: Space News)
NASA advocates expecting a big boost to the U.S. space agency’s budget in 2011 are likely to be disappointed when the administration of President Barack Obama delivers its annual funding request to lawmakers Feb. 1, according to sources with close ties to the administration. NASA’s budget, just over $18.7 billion this year, is still expected to rise again in 2011, these sources said, but by much less than the $1 billion increase NASA and its contractors have been privately anticipating since mid-December. (1/20)

Florida Space Industry Sets Mar. 3 for Florida Space Day in Tallahassee (Source: SPACErePORT)
Key representatives from Florida’s space industry will visit Tallahassee on Mar. 3 to participate in Florida Space Day and share the challenges the industry faces in ensuring Florida remains at the forefront of the nation’s space program. As key industry leaders prepare for the 2010 Florida Space Day, numerous efforts by a variety of groups are underway as Florida fights to maintain its leadership in the aerospace industry.

“The issues facing the aerospace industry over the next year are not just a Brevard County issue, this is a critical state-wide concern that affects all Floridians,” said Mark Nappi, chairman for Florida Space Day 2010. “NASA has contractors in nearly all of Florida’s 67 counties and there are more than 1,000 subcontractors throughout the state. Although the Florida state budget is tight, this is a crucial time and we need to act now to preserve and foster Florida’s role.” Nappi is Vice President and Florida Site Executive for United Space Alliance. Click here for information. (1/20)

Orbital Gives Update on Taurus 2 Rocket Development (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
Orbital Sciences is still hoping for a March 2011 debut of the company's medium-lift Taurus 2 rocket, but challenges with facility construction and delays in ground testing could push the first launch later into next year, a senior manager said. Orbital senior vice president Frank Culbertson said first stage engine testing at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi is now projected to start in April or May. The first batch of AJ26 engines is slated to arrive at Stennis no earlier than March, nearly a year later than expected in schedules announced in late 2008.

The Taurus 2 rocket first stage will use a pair of kerosene-fueled AJ26 main engines provided by Aerojet Corp. The AJ26 is derived from the NK-33 engine developed by the former Soviet Union for the ill-fated N-1 moon rocket of the 1960s and 1970s. Aerojet imported the NK-33 engines from Russia in the 1990s. The Sacramento-based company has 37 NK-33 engines in inventory, plus a few more units of the NK-43 high-altitude engine, according to Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet's vice president for space programs. (1/20)

Next Space Club Luncheon Features SpaceX Update on Feb. 9 (Source: NSCFL)
The next luncheon event for the National Space Club's Florida Committee will feature Scott Henderson of SpaceX. He will provide a "strategic update" on SpaceX and its Falcon-9 program. The luncheon will be held at the Radisson Resort at Port Canaveral on Feb. 9. Visit http://www.nscfl.org for information and reservations. (1/20)

Virginia Governor Supports Continued Spaceport Funding (Source: SSTI)
In his "State of the Commonwealth Address" on Jan. 18, Virginia's new Gov. Bob McDonnell said: "(W)e must have the vision and the foresight to invest in our future. Our Jobs and Opportunity agenda consists of policies that make those investments... Governor Kaine committed to invest $1.3 million in the Virginia Spaceport. We can make Wallops Island the top commercial Spaceport in America, and I ask you to keep that money in place so that we can aggressively recruit aerospace companies and promote space tourism initiatives." (1/20)

Embry-Riddle Alumnus to Pilot Next Shuttle Flight (Source: ERAU)
U.S. Air Force Col. Terry Virts Jr., an Embry-Riddle alumnus, is undergoing final preparations to pilot STS-130 space shuttle Endeavour on his first flight into space. The launch from Kennedy Space Center is currently scheduled for 4:39 a.m. EST on Feb. 7. Three spacewalks will be conducted during the 13-day mission to install a pressurized connecting node that will provide additional room for many of the space station's life support and environmental control systems already on board, including air revitalization, oxygen generation, and water recycling. The astronauts will also attach a cupola to the new node, to be used as a control room for robotics. One of six current or former astronauts who are Embry-Riddle alumni, Virts earned an M.A.S. in Aeronautics in 1997 from the University’s Worldwide Campus. (1/20)

Private Space Stations Edge Closer to Reality (Source: MSNBC)
With two prototype modules for a commercial space station already circling the Earth, Bigelow Aerospace is gearing up for a full-scale assault on space. For the upstart firm, it's about volume — and not entirely in the sense of quantity or number of items sold. The company's expandable module designs are designed to offer low-cost commercial volume in space — for rent or lease — not only to private-sector interests, but also to national space agencies.

Given NASA's plans to build a heavy-lift, Ares V-class booster, Bigelow said he's got "Big Bertha" spacecraft in mind that could fit such a beefy rocket. One expandable module on the drawing board provides 2,100 cubic meters of volume — that's twice the volume of the International Space Station. He also has his sights on expandable space habitats for Lagrangian Point L1, partway between the moon and the Earth. "If we can deploy and gang together modules in low-Earth orbit, you can do it in L1 ... and you are 85 percent of the way to the moon," Bigelow said. In fact, one scenario Bigelow Aerospace has already blueprinted is the soft landing of a trio of attached BA-330 modules — including astronauts — on the moon.

The result: instant moon base, something the size of the International Space Station, Bigelow advised. The self-propelled base could even blast itself into lunar orbit, or move from spot to spot on the moon, he said. "We would lease those lunar facilities to our clients. That keeps the price down. If we sell something instead of lease something, the price really jumps," Bigelow said. Click here to read the article. (1/20)

USAF Chief: Back Away From GPS (Source: DOD Buzz)
In the face of threats from jamming and attacks on satellites the United States must lessen its dependence on the Global Positioning System and develop alternatives to GPS, Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, said. He's concerned that GPS signals are particularly vulnerable in time of war since enemies know of the reliance U.S. forces place on its highly accurate signal. Schwartz’s call is driven by serious threats to GPS, according to officials familiar with the issue who would not discuss current threats in detail but confirmed that GPS has been jammed or interfered with recently. (1/20)

Richardson Touts Spaceport to New Mexico Legislators (Source: Space Politics)
On Tuesday, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, in his final State of the State address, urged continued support for Spaceport America, and the passage of spaceflight-related legislation. "I’m pleased to report that Spaceport America is ahead of schedule and under budget. As we speak four hundred and sixty-seven new workers are on the job constructing the first commercial spaceport in the world, with one hundred and fifty to three hundred more hires expected over this year. The Spaceport is fulfilling its promise of inspiring young men and women to study math and science...and expanding tourism. For those who doubt if the Spaceport will bring in business, you should know that Virgin Galactic has over $42 million deposited for more than three hundred reservations. The demand is there. New Mexico will get its return on investment. To make sure New Mexico remains competitive against Virginia, Florida and Texas, I’m asking this body to pass legislation allowing participants to assume the risks of spaceflight." (1/20)

Evaluating Obama on Space Policy After One Year (Source: Space Politics)
This week marks one year since Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President. This marks an opportunity to examine what he has—and has not—accomplished during that time, in this case in terms of space policy. While the president himself gives himself a “good solid B-plus”, on space policy a more appropriate grade might be “Incomplete”, as many of his initiatives outlined in his campaign’s space policy issued in Aug. 2008 haven’t been enacted or are still in the works-—and on which we may see progress in the coming weeks when the White House releases its revised space exploration plans. Click here for a quick review of what candidate Obama proposed in key sections of that white paper and what President Obama has accomplished so far. (1/20)

Congressional Action Centers on Money (Source: Florida Today)
Florida Senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux and Reps. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, and Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, urged President Barack Obama in an October 2009 letter to shift $3 billion in unspent stimulus funds to NASA's human spaceflight program. Obama is expected to announce his plans for the agency soon. Kosmas also won approval of an amendment to small-business legislation to allow photonics companies to receive grants that spur new business, and for an amendment to small-business legislation to allow companies that contribute to the space shuttle to commercialize after the program retires. Her district had 300 businesses with $200 million in shuttle contracts last year.

Posey sponsored legislation with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., in April 2009 to require NASA to extend the life of the shuttle by flying at least two shuttle missions per year starting in 2010 rather than paying Russia to launch American crews and cargo. The extension would last until 2015 or when NASA certifies a commercial vehicle or the Orion vehicle becomes operational, whichever comes first. The bill has been sent to a House subcommittee with no further action. (1/20)

County Group Working to Minimize Job Loss (Source: Florida Today)
Ensure that Florida remains in the forefront of future NASA programs. Boost federal research and development spending. And capture a share of burgeoning alternative-energy markets. These are goals of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast to help Brevard County withstand the pending space shake-up, said Lynda Weatherman, president and chief executive officer. "Whether the shuttle program is extended or the Ares program changes course, our job remains the same -- to bring new opportunities to the Space Coast's businesses and citizens," Weatherman said.

As a previous EDC success story, she pointed to Lockheed Martin's 2006 announcement that Orion, the crew vehicle, will be assembled in Brevard. Weatherman said her organization will "stay on the front lines" in shortening the impending gap between the shuttle retirement and the debut of the CEV program. Another future objective: Bring prep work for the International Space Station National Laboratory -- such as hardware assembly and experiment preparation -- to Brevard. (1/20)

Save Space Letter Campaign Sends 500,000 to Washington (Source: Florida Today)
Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher has a message for President Barack Obama: Save NASA jobs. "To retain our nation's leading science and technological standing in the world, it is necessary that we take steps now to retain this unique workforce," Fisher wrote in a September letter to Obama. "We have initiated a letter-writing campaign to emphasize the importance of the space program to this community, this state, and this nation," he added. The grassroots Save Space initiative and its Web site, www.SaveSpace.us, remain active after their initial Oct. 31 sunset dates. As of this week, the Save Space Web site had racked up more than 66,000 hits, said Kimberly Prosser, county spokeswoman. In addition, the program had more than 4,500 Facebook fans and more than 130 Twitter followers. (1/20)

Some Won't Give Up on Trying to Save Shuttle (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
With 7,000 Florida jobs in the balance and no word on what President Barack Obama will decide about NASA's future, a last-ditch campaign to save the space shuttle is taking shape, seeking to save the aging orbiters and their workforce before the final mission launches later this year. A few members of Congress, some NASA contractors and even senior space-agency managers have started pushing for measures ranging from keeping the fleet flying until 2015 to adding just one more flight. NASA has long maintained that its ability to keep the shuttle going past its last five scheduled flights diminishes with each passing day as the agency winds down contracts, hands out pink slips and dismantles equipment.

But according to senior NASA officials and contractors, there are enough spare parts, tools and iconic orange fuel tanks for as many as five additional flights. "With political will and funding, it's absolutely doable," said Howard DeCastro, shuttle program manager at United Space Alliance. "The tooling is still there." The cost of flying five more missions through 2012, he said, would be between $1.8 billion and $2.4 billion a year — less than the shuttle's current annual price tag of $3 billion. (1/20)

Florida Members Mixed on Shuttle Extension (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Freshman U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, a Republican from Rockledge, is pushing a bill that would extend shuttle launches through 2015. Driving him is the prospect of 7,000 shuttle workers losing their jobs — and the memories of losing his own when NASA shrank the Apollo program. "You are sympathetic when you've been there, done that," said Posey, 62, who was a young safety inspector when NASA laid him off after it reached the moon in 1969. Thousands of Kennedy Space Center workers lost their jobs after Apollo, and Posey is pained by the near-certainty it will happen again. In his eyes, keeping the shuttle flying is "better [for jobs] than any other stimulus spending."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told a group that he was ready to sign up for the Atlantis flight. "If they have a sixth vehicle that has been held in reserve as a rescue vehicle and if they have the confidence in the safety of the vehicle, then I think clearly folks like me are going to be singing the same tune that a lot of people inside NASA are going to be singing, which is 'Let's launch,'" he said.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, whose district includes KSC, says she doesn't want to back more shuttle flights if it "ties the hands" of the administration to begin a more-ambitious program to explore the inner solar system. A White House decision is due soon. "None of us want to let go of the shuttle program," said the New Smyrna Beach Democrat. "But at the end of the day, we are going to enter a new phase of exploration, so we have to be advancing that." (1/20)

This Satellite Could Help Save Humanity (Source: The Tyee)
The media missed the real story about the so-called "climategate" scandal. After thousands of emails were mysteriously stolen from the University of East Anglia and distributed just before the climate conference in Copenhagen, many news outlets seemed content to report the story as it was presented to them rather than bothering to read the emails in the context they were written. A closer look reveals a very different problem than the supposed scientific conspiracy theory. This previously unreported story also shows why launching the long-mothballed Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is more urgent now than ever.

The story you haven't heard is that scientists can't get the numbers to add up using existing climate satellites. After billions of research dollars spent and over a decade of trying, the energy budget of planet as measured by CERES and other low-Earth orbit satellite systems is out of whack by about six watts per square meter. That stubborn error in the satellite data is about six times larger than what is scientifically possible, and several times larger than the effect scientists are trying to see, namely planetary warming caused by continued massive emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The long-mothballed DSCOVR spacecraft, still languishing in clean storage here on Earth, is just such an instrument. Rather than seeing the planet from hundreds of kilometers away, DSCOVR was designed to track our orbit around the Sun from 1.5 million kilometers away. From a unique gravitational dimple called "L1", the spacecraft would continuously monitor the entire sunlit disc of our planet, providing an entirely new way of collecting data on the Earth's energy budget. This coincident data would compliment and calibrate more detailed measurements from CERES and other satellites that observe the Earth from much closer. (1/20)

Editorial: Grounding Shuttle Could Ground Florida Economy, Too (Source: Sun-Sentinel)
NASA will ground space shuttles for good this year, barring an unexpected change of heart from President Obama. Up to 7,000 positions at Kennedy Space Center and at least 10,000 more Florida jobs that depend on them could be lost along with the program. This economic meteor has been hurtling toward Florida for several years, but state leaders have done far too little to plan for it. In last year's legislative session, not a single proposal to boost the space industry in the state was passed. With a year wasted, and Florida now suffering double-digit unemployment, action is more urgent than ever.

Members of Florida's congressional delegation have been pushing to raise NASA's budget and direct dollars to other job-creating projects in the space sector. But these goals also demand action on the state level. Instead, Gov. Crist and state lawmakers are talking about renewal of a sales-tax holiday on school supplies and cutting corporate taxes. Little is being said about investing in an industry that's critical to Florida's economy. Floridians will have to look for ideas from a diferent group of lawmakers, a new group called the Florida Space Caucus. They correctly point out the health of the space industry is a concern for the entire state because businesses and jobs associated with space and related industries are spread throughout Florida.

Some of the ideas they are working on include establishing a commercial launch zone, a designation that would make the state more nimble in attracting and keeping space companies. They also support establishing a fund for incentives to land space investments and jobs; creating an R&D tax credit for space and other high-tech companies; and putting up more money to retrain laid-off workers and support research at state colleges and universities. These kinds of ideas have languished in the past without strong support from the governor and Legislature. Tallahassee has another shot this spring. It mustn't waste another opportunity to act. (1/20)

Florida Space Caucus Unveils its Agenda (Source: Florida Today)
A day before a Senate appropriations committee planned to discuss a $2.6 billion budget shortfall, the newly formed Florida Space Caucus unveiled its agenda for dealing with the loss of 4,500 jobs when NASA retires the shuttle later this year. Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne and co-chairman of the caucus, said its 42 members will sponsor a handful of bills promoting tax cuts and other incentives for high-tech industries. But the top priority will be a push for a dedicated funding stream for Space Florida, the state's public-private aerospace development agency, Altman said.

Space Florida head Frank DiBello estimates that $20 million to $25 million a year would do the job. "We need to support and enable a sustained investment strategy in our state," DiBello said. "Without investment now, we will not succeed in revitalizing our industry." Prying that much money loose will be difficult at best, acknowledged one caucus member, Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland. "The chances aren't very good," said Dockery, who is running for governor. "As long as it goes for true job creation, it should be a priority and I'll support it." (1/19)

USA Foresees Job Loss "Cliff" Coming Soon (Source: Florida Today)
The last shuttle launch in September will shower the Space Coast with a blizzard of pink slips, warned Mark Nappi, a vice president at United Space Alliance. The prime shuttle contractor employs 4,500 workers in Florida. "There is no manageable reduction in workforce, this is a cliff," Nappi told members of the Florida Space Caucus in Tallahassee. " We'll see 4,500 jobs leave Florida in a manner of months."

Florida should focus on diversification of its launch and high-tech industries to keep the workforce intact as long as possible, Nappi said. NASA had difficulty assembling a workforce for the shuttle in the early 1980s after the Apollo moon program wound down nearly a decade before, he said. When the U.S. resumes its manned space-flight program, NASA could face the same problem again, Nappi said. (1/19)

Canadian Astronaut: Learned a Lot, But 'Wouldn't Do It Again' (Source: CanWest)
In his first visit back to Canada since the end of his history-making six-month stay aboard the International Space Station, Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk said he learned a lot on the orbital outpost but the physical toll and strain on his family life were not things he would willingly repeat. "You don't get something for nothing," said the first Canadian long-term resident of the space station. "I wouldn't do it again," Thirsk, a McGill University-trained doctor, said about the 125-million-kilometre journey on which he lost 4 1⁄2 kilograms of muscle mass — most of which he's since regained. (1/19)

Sudan Arrests Europeans Over Asteroid Fragments (Source: Reuters)
Sudanese police said on Tuesday they had arrested two European tourists for collecting fragments of an asteroid from the country's northern desert without permission. The tourists, from France and Belgium, found pieces of an asteroid that crashed to earth in the Abu-Hamad area of Sudan's remote Northern state. "This was a clear violation and an illegal act because they didn't get the right permission from the geological or other relevant authorities," a police spokesman said. (1/19)

China Might Explore Other Planets (Source: China Daily)
China might one day explore other planets, Sun Jiadong, chief designer of Chang'e-l, China's first lunar probe, told China Economic Weekly. Sun said the launch of Chang'e 1 was the beginning of China's deep space exploration, and that the developing economy and space technology will pave the way for future study and a possible exploration beyond the moon. (1/19)

NMSU Grad Students Reach for the Sky with New Aerospace Program (Source: The Roundup)
The Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at New Mexico State University will give graduate students the opportunity to learn and develop ingenuity in a new graduate program. Crystal Lay, director of Aerospace and Special Projects at NMSU, said the university has already given the go-ahead to start the program and has given the approval to hire two faculty members.

However, it is going to take a bit more than that to get the program running efficiently, Lay said. "What I am worried about right now is the state cutting the funds for the program and not being able to hire the rest of the faculty, which is another four,” Lay said. Lay said the university will provide funds to hire two faculty members, and additional faculty may be funded by the state. “If the state cuts the funds, we’re going to run the department by the ear, miraculously,” Lay said. (1/19)

Mission to Mars (Source: The Engineer)
The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA are inviting scientists from across the world to propose instruments for their joint Mars mission, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which the ESA will build and NASA will launch. Scheduled for launch in 2016, the spacecraft will focus on understanding the constituents of the martian atmosphere.

Both space agencies have issued an ‘Announcement of Opportunity’, inviting scientists to propose instruments to be carried on the mission. Once all proposals are in, they will be evaluated and the winning teams will be tasked with building the actual hardware. (1/19)

NASA Ames Builds Greenest Government Building Ever (Source: Discovery)
A green building called the Sustainability Base is being constructed at NASA’s Ames in Mountain View, Calif., and will serve as a testbed for intelligent systems that monitor and manage indoor conditions. The technology -- mostly software -- for the building comes from existing technology originally developed to do things like optimize systems on the International Space Station and plan missions on rovers. Click here to view the article. (1/19)

Orbital Picks MDA for Cygnus Cature/Mating System (Source: CNW Group)
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) has received a $2.4 million contract from Orbital Sciences Corp. to provide a critical interface that will enable capture and mating of the Cygnus cargo delivery spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). The contract also contains an option to purchase additional units for follow-on operational missions worth at least $4 million.

The Cygnus spacecraft is being developed by Orbital under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. A demonstration flight is scheduled for early 2011 with eight subsequent operational missions to be conducted by Orbital between 2011 and 2015 under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program. Cygnus in-orbit operations will include autonomous close proximity operations to the ISS, but the spacecraft does not automatically berth with the station. It will be outfitted with MDA's power and video grapple fixture in order for Canadarm2 to grapple the free-floating spacecraft. (1/19)

ZERO-G Brings Sky High Adventure to Los Angeles With Exclusive Weightless Flight on Feb. 13 (Source: ZERO-G)
On February 13, ZERO-G's G-FORCE ONE aircraft will blast off from VNY airport in Los Angeles offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to defy the law of gravity. Guests will have the unique opportunity to float freely and lighten up in complete weightlessness onboard ZERO-G's weightless flight. ZERO-G is the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights. Visit http://www.GoZeroG.com to reserve a seat. (1/19)

Spy Agency Charter Lost in Space (Source: DOD Buzz)
The proposed new charter for the nation’s spy satellite builder, the National Reconnaissance Office, is stuck in the Department of Defense’s general counsel’s office. The lawyers are apparently worried that the new charter may expand the agency’s powers into areas governed by the military services. Information on all this is extremely close hold but we have heard variations on this from two very well informed sources. One phrase in the statement of principles that guides the charter appears to be the issue: “overhead reconnaissance systems.”

The phrase at issue could be interpreted to include Air Force systems and thus give the spy agency powers it currently does not possess. That worries military space advocates. They believe it could allow the NRO to take budgetary and programmatic control over some systems currently controlled by the military services, especially the Air Force. (1/19)

No comments: